During my two months in Stagis, I´ve participated in several business meetings. Some have been interesting, some have been educating and yet some have actually been fun. But what these meetings all have in common, is the presence of what I call The Ego Game.
The Ego Game is a game of lies and deception, of selfishness and opportunism! A bit dramatical, agreed, but these feelings and expressions can be found in every formal meeting, especially in business meetings and director´s board meetings. In this world of finances and economics, it is accepted and expected that everyone acts for their own benefit at all times, as many economists have stressed during the years. This understanding of human behaviour is deeply founded in the western form of society.
In Denmark we have a long history of bureaucracy, especially in the public sector, which of course inflicts on our meeting culture. Our meetings tend to be very formal with a clear “chain of command”. We have to follow the speaking order, and I think, that this is damaging to the both the productivity of the meeting, the outspread of knowledge and the creation of creative solutions.
The traditional form of a meeting is very well suited for a certain kind of people – the daring, outgoing employee, executive og member of the board. These peoble have a personality which allows them to function in the tradicional meeting culture – in short, they can play the Ego Game to perfection! But what about the rest? What about the more quit ones, that don´t play the Ego Game so well?
The fact, that our meetings generally favours the outgoing persons, is a risk of losing valuable knowledge. Of course the ideas and creativity of a more withdrawn person isn´t of lower value than others. The challenge is to get these ideas out in the open. This will dramatically reduce the effects of the Ego Game, and that way increase the productivity of the meeting and the value for the companies involved.
But how can we do this? Is it possible to design a meeting culture, that makes it possible for everyone to participate equally in the discussions? And what would this meeting be like?
I´m looking forward to hear your thoughts on this subject! Meanwhile I´ll try to work out a suggestion of my own…